Total and Corbion form a JV in bioplastics

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Total and Corbion are joining forces to develop bioplastics by creating a 50/50 JV to produce and market polylactic polymers, said Corbion on its site.

The two companies plan to build a PLA polymerization plant with a capacity of 75,000 tpy at Corbion's site in Thailand that already has a lactide production unit, which will become part of the JV. Corbion will supply the lactic acid necessary for the production of the PLA and the lactide.

"I’m very pleased with this joint venture, which aims to become a major player in the growing bioplastics market. This investment is consistent with our One Total ambition of expanding in biofuels and bioplastics, in addition to our more traditional oil- and gas-based products," said Bernard Pinatel, President of Total Refining & Chemicals. "Corbion’s unique position in the lactic acid and biopolymers value chain makes it a natural choice for Total."

"PLA is one of the first renewable, biodegradable polymers able to compete with existing polymers,” said Tjerk de Ruiter, CEO of Corbion. “The joint venture, which will combine Total’s technical and marketing knowledge and leading position in polymers with Corbion’s expertise in lactic acid and biopolymers, will enable us to supply innovative products and will accelerate market acceptance."

The new company will be based in the Netherlands and will launch operations in the 1st quarter of 2017, subject to regulatory approvals.

As MRC informed earlier, Total and Italy's Erg are looking to sell a stake in their Italian refinery business Sarpom to facilitate an auction of one of the country's biggest service station networks.

Total S.A. is a French multinational oil and gas company and one of the six "Supermajor" oil companies in the world with business in Europe, the United States, the Middle East and Asia. The company's petrochemical products cover two main groups: base chemicals and the consumer polymers (polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene) that are derived from them.

New PP pilot plant enables SABIC to meet key industry needs

MOSCOW (MRC) -- SABIC will have a new pilot plant for development of next-generation polypropylenes (PP) on-stream in Sittard-Geleen, the Netherlands, by the end of March next year, said the producer in its press release.

The plant, which will use gas-phase polymerization technology, will support the production at nearby full-scale plants of superior materials that meet the needs of the different industries like automotive, pipe, appliances and advanced packaging.

The pilot plant is the latest in a series of investments being made by SABIC at the Brightlands Chemelot R&D and manufacturing campus in Sittard-Geleen. The company opened a new research facility there in May. Lina Prada, Global PP Technology Director, says the pilot plant is a further demonstration of SABIC’s commitment to invest in innovation. "When it starts up next year, we will have considerably more capacity to develop new PP materials for commercialization in our current European assets in Geleen and in Gelsenkirchen, Germany," says Prada.

SABIC is taking a fast-track approach to construction and installation of the pilot plant. It has contracted the work to Zeton, a leading designer and builder of innovative pilot and demonstration-scale plants with facilities in Enschede, the Netherlands and Burlington Ontario in Canada. Zeton has developed a skid-mounted system that accelerates implementation times and allows full design flexibility. Installation will begin in December after Zeton has built and tested the plant in Enschede before partially disassembling it into around 15 modules for delivery to Geleen.

SABIC is looking in particular to develop grades with improved stiffness/impact, flow properties and other specific secondary properties needed in different industries. SABIC plans to concentrate on development of impact grades of PP, as well as random copolymers and homopolymers. It will also carry out experiments on advanced catalysts. The plant will complement pilot plants used by SABIC at other strategic locations, and would support the strategic innovation initiatives to address continuously evolving market needs.

As MRC informed before, a decision on whether SABIC will go ahead with a JV with ExxonMobil will likely be made by Q2 2017, SABIC's acting chief executive Yousef Abdullah al-Benyan said in an interview with Reuters this summer.

Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) ranks among the worldпїЅs top petrochemical companies. The company is among the worldпїЅs market leaders in the production of polyethylene, polypropylene and other advanced thermoplastics, glycols, methanol and fertilizers.

HDPE imports into Russia decreased by 21% in January - October 2016

MOSCOW (MRC) - Total imports of high density polyethylene (HDPE) into Russia decreased to about 125,800 tonnes in the first ten months of 2016, down 21% compared to the same period of 2015. Reduction of imports was seen in all segments of consumption, the exception was the film and blow moulding polyethylene, according to survey DataScope of MRC analysts.

October imports of HDPE into Russia reduced to 12,800 tonnes, compared with 16,700 tonnes a month earlier, the main decline in purchases accounted for extrusion blow moulding PE, production of films and pipes. Total HDPE imports into Russia decreased to 125,800 tonnes in the first ten months of the year, compared with 158,800 tonnes in the same time a year earlier. The greatest reduction in external supplies recorded in the segment of pipe extrusion, and extrusion coating of steel pipes of large diameter, while import of film and blow moulding HDPE, on the contrary, has grown.

Structure of HDPE supply over the reported period looked as follows.

October imports of injection moulding PE grew to 3,500 tonnes from 3,300 tonnes a month earlier, the main increase in imports accounted for local producers of PET containers. Total imports of injection moulding HDPE in to the country were about 31,200 tonnes in the first ten months of the year, compared with 38,700 tonnes a year on year.

September imports of HDPE into the country remained practically at the August level at about 2,200 tonnes. Total HDPE for extrusion blow moulding imports into the country increased to 25,600 tonnes in January - October 2016, compared to 20,800 tonnes year on year.

October imports of film HDPE decreased to 2,900 tonnes against 3,900 tonnes a month earlier, the main decrease accounted for producers from Uzbekistan (local producers shut their capacities for the turnaround in October). Total imports of film HDPE into the country increased to 22,100 tonnes in January-October 2016, compared to 14,100 tonnes a year earlier.

October imports of pipe HDPE fell to 1,600 tonnes against 3,000 tonnes in September, Russian pipe producers decreased purchases of polyethylene in Asia. Russia's pipe HDPE imports in the first ten months of the year decreased to 19,000 tonnes, down 42% year on year. The main reasons for the fall in import volumes were increased domestic production and reduced the demand for pipes.

October imports of HDPE for extrusion coating of steel pipes of large diameter decreased to 1,600 tonnes, whereas the previous month this figure has not exceeded 2,900 tonnes. Imports of this type of polyethylene fell by 57% to 18,100 tonnes in the first ten months of this year, partly because of the growth of local production.

Russia's imports of HDPE in other consumption sectors decreased to 9,800 tonnes in the first ten months of the year compared with 10,900 tonnes year on year.


Air Products selected for technology upgrade at Shell hydrogen fueling station

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Air Products was selected by Equilon Enterprises, LLC, a subsidiary of Shell Oil Products U.S., to upgrade Shell’s hydrogen refueling station in Torrance, Calif., to a 200-kilogram-per-day retail station, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The project requires installation of new hydrogen compression, purification, cooling and dispenser technology. The upgrade will convert the station from non-retail to retail status and help improve vehicle filling performance and consumer interaction.

The upgraded station will have the fueling capacity of 200 kilograms of hydrogen per 12-hour day (the equivalent of 200 gallons of gasoline per day). The newly designed dispensers will allow retail fuelings, which means the accuracy of the quantity of fuel delivered will be in compliance with the latest California Division of Measurement and Standards, and the consumer will be able to pay for the hydrogen at the station. Additionally, the station will be designed to provide 350-bar (5,000 psi) and 700-bar (10,000 psi) vehicle fuelings, allow two cars to be fueled simultaneously, and enable three back-to-back vehicle fills per dispenser.

"The need to upgrade this station is a reflection that the use of hydrogen as a clean and sustainable transportation fuel is here today and really taking hold," said Nick Mittica, commercial business manager, Hydrogen Energy Systems, at Air Products.

As MRC informed earlier, Air Products will build a new large air separation unit (LASU) in Ulsan, South Korea.

Air Products has more than 50 years of hydrogen experience and an extensive patent portfolio with over 50 patents in hydrogen dispensing technology. Air Products provides liquid and gaseous hydrogen and a variety of enabling devices and protocols for fuel dispensing at varied pressures. Hydrogen for these stations can be delivered to a site via truck or pipeline, produced by natural gas reformation, biomass conversion, or by electrolysis, including electrolysis that is solar and wind driven.

Royal Dutch Shell plc is an Anglo-Dutch multinational oil and gas company headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands and with its registered office in London, United Kingdom. It is the biggest company in the world in terms of revenue and one of the six oil and gas "supermajors". Shell is vertically integrated and is active in every area of the oil and gas industry, including exploration and production, refining, distribution and marketing, petrochemicals, power generation and trading.

Oil wars - how Kremlin USD13 billion Indian deal almost fell apart

MOSCOW (MRC) -- A multi-billion-dollar Russian deal to buy Indian refiner Essar was nearly sunk at the eleventh hour by a rival bid from Saudi Arabia as the two oil superpowers vie for supremacy across the world, said Reuters.

The deal between Essar and a consortium led by Kremlin oil giant Rosneft appeared dead in the water two months ago after Saudi state energy firm Aramco weighed in, according to seven Russia, India and Saudi-based industry sources familiar with or involved in the negotiations.

It was salvaged due to the involvement of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who were keen for it go through, and after the consortium agreed to pay USD13 billion - more than double what Rosneft had initially valued Essar at, sources told Reuters.

This made the refiner the biggest-ever foreign acquisition in India and Russia's largest outbound deal. The tussle for Essar - a state-of-the-art plant in the world's fastest-growing fuel market - illustrates the growing battle for oil markets between Russia and Saudi Arabia, the world's two largest crude exporters.

It also sheds light on the challenges OPEC member Saudi Arabia and non-OPEC Russia - which are also fighting a proxy conflict in Syria's civil war - will face in trying to clinch a global agreement to limit output growth to prop up oil prices.

The full details of how the Essar deal was struck remain unclear. Two industry sources said it was rescued thanks to the involvement of Putin and Modi while three other sources said Rosneft had simply outbid Saudi Aramco.

Officials in Modi's office declined to comment while Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied there was any Kremlin intervention in the deal. Rosneft and Saudi Aramco declined to comment.

Essar said it had held discussions with several potential buyers but had gone with the Rosneft consortium because their offer was considered the most attractive. It denied there was any intervention from Putin or Modi.

As MRC informed earlier, in the late October, Russian private investment group United Capital Partners (UCP), which is teaming up with oil giant Rosneft to buy India's Essar Oil in a USD12.9-B deal, said it may sell its stake within five years.

Rosneft became Russia's largest publicly traded oil company in March 2013 after the USD55 billion takeover of TNK-BP, which was Russia’s third-largest oil producer at the time. Apart from other assets, Rosneft owns Angarsk Polymer Plant and Ufaorgsintez in Russia and Lisichansky refinery in Ukraine.